A new school in Oro-Medonte will be a win-win for the community and the school board, officials say.
The Simcoe County District School Board announced in January it had received funding for a new, $8.5-million elementary school. At that time, board chair Peter Beacock said there would be talks with the Township of Oro-Medonte about forming a joint-use partnership for the facility.
The board revealed this month the school will be built at 739 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W., at Line 4, and that there would, indeed, be a partnership with the township.
It’s good news for Oro-Medonte, which has been facing increasing demand for community space.
The need for more spaces for sports and other activities “came out loud and clear” when the township was working on a facilities plan a number of years ago, said Shawn Binns, director of operations and community services.
“The demand is certainly there,” he said, adding that is especially true in the Horseshoe Valley area, which is seeing significant development growth.
Staff will bring a report on the matter to council Thursday. It focuses on a few areas. One stresses the importance of continuing to discuss with the board the township’s needs.
“Our demand is in evenings and on the weekends for after-school programs,” he said.
The township will also be looking for “cultural space,” including, possibly, some type of performing arts stage.
That type of multi-use space is hard to come by in Oro-Medonte. The arena in Guthrie has a banquet hall on the second floor, but its uses are limited.
The township will also be interested in opportunities to use outdoor space at the school.
The timing is right for such a partnership, Binns said.
“The same issues we’re seeing, the school board is seeing as well,” he said of population growth. “This is an example of leveraging public dollars for the benefit of the community.”
Facility partnerships are not new to the board. It has an arrangement with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit at a high school in Midland, while Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School in Angus includes space used by the Essa Public Library and OPP.
“What’s unique (about the situation in Oro-Medonte) is that it’s going to be the first for Oro-Medonte and it’s a joint partnership in an elementary school,” said Brian Jeffs, the board’s superintendent of business and facility services.
Whenever the board is building a new school, it reaches out to the municipality and other potential partners to discuss the possibility of an agreement.
Public consultations will take place, likely in early August, to gather input and ideas.
The school, which will accommodate 357 students and an EarlyON Child and Family Centre, could be open in late 2021 or early 2022.